Book review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Yuval Harari’s latest book builds upon his previous two, Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus. Harari is an historian, but this book is about modern philosophy.  Harari covers such a diverse range of contemporary issues facing modern society that it is almost exhausting to read.  It is not exhausting because it is difficult to read or to understand his intent, in fact it is very easy to read, and Harari’s writing style is engaging and even entertaining.  It is exhausting because his storytelling will have you constantly examining your own beliefs and values. Harari examines a diversity of topics from autonomous vehicles and big data to terrorism and domestic violence.  As an example, Harari concludes that our government’s (perhaps read police) takes a softer approach to domestic and sexual abuse because “rape (or other violence against women) does not undermine the government’s legitimacy”, like terrorism or some forms of white-collar crime.  This statement is of course in the context of the much greater societal harm that is caused by domestic and sexual abuse than is caused by terrorism.  For those who like to be intellectually challenged by content rather than writing style I strongly recommend this book. If you want to try Harari before you commit to his book, he has delivered several TED talks. 

Review by Bob Fauser, AIPM Director – Graduate Programs, 2019. 

(published on 21/01/2019)

The better angels of our nature : a history of violence and humanity / Steven Pinker.

"The better angels of our nature” is a phrase from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address and was a plea to the American population to avoid what became the American Civil War. At a time when true accountability can hide behind claims of ‘fake news’ and AI algorithms are narrowing the information we receive to only those perspectives that are similar to our own, Steven Pinker is one of several contemporary authors who are using factual data supported by an engaging narrative to demonstrate that the world is a better place than many of us perceive it to be. For police officers, this book is worthy of your attention because, perhaps more than other occupations, our work-based experience can lead to a very distorted view about the goodness of the majority and how much better the world is today than it was.

 Review by Bob Fauser, AIPM Visiting Fellow, 2018. 

(published on 01/11/2018)
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